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What's the correct verb to describe the action of a hungry person's stomach making some noise?

For example:

I hadn't had breakfast and lunch, so this meeting was a huge embarrassment for me as my stomach was constantly _________________ to everyone's amusement, but I couldn't do anything about it.

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  • Just FYI, in most of the US (at least among groups other than perhaps adolescent males and drunks) one's stomach growling would not be cause for everyone's delight. Most people would politely ignore it.
    – jamesqf
    Jan 1, 2020 at 4:31
  • @jamesqf - Thanks. I wonder if the word "delight" is the right one here. My original choice of words was "to everyone's fun" and what I meant by it was that everyone around was giggling, but later my question was edited and "fun" was changed to "delight". Using the word "delight" strikes me more like implying that people really enjoyed the sound of growling coming from my stomach, rather than found that funny.
    – brilliant
    Jan 1, 2020 at 5:53
  • The technical term is “borborygmi”, but it’s not commonly used in casual English. Jan 2, 2020 at 23:06
  • @jamesqf I can certainly be privately amused while being outwardly professional. If I knew the person well, I would probably tease them goodnaturedly after the meeting. If the meeting was very casual and everyone knew each other well, I might mention it as it happened too! If I didn't know the person well I'd ignore it.
    – CJ Dennis
    Jan 2, 2020 at 23:13

3 Answers 3

40

The word/verb you are looking for is growl. Your stomach growls when you are hungry.

I hadn't had breakfast and lunch, so this meeting was a huge embarrassment for me as my stomach was constantly growling to everyone's amusement, but I couldn't do anything about it.


Added note: The question is concerned about a colloquial and everyday language; hence, growl is my choice. Rumbling is specific to the stomach's character and may be used in examining a person. Typically, on a lighter note, when you are hungry, stomach growling suits better.

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  • 3
    I've never heard this usage. Jan 2, 2020 at 15:51
  • 1
    @LightnessRaceswithMonica It doesn't matter whether you've personally heard it or not. There's an American user who states this is the only way they've ever heard it. That is irrelevant too. The word is correct, however, this answer implies its the only correct word when there are many alternatives.
    – CJ Dennis
    Jan 2, 2020 at 23:15
  • @CJDennis You'll find plenty of people on this site adding their own experience on whether they've heard a phrase or not. But I'm sorry to have offended you and will ensure not to bother you with my irrelevant, immaterial comments in the future. Jan 3, 2020 at 12:34
  • @LightnessRaceswithMonica My intent is not to offend. A single data point, no matter who it comes from, is irrelevant. It's only when we collect thousands of data points that meaningful patterns can be discerned. What value does it provide to anyone how I say a thing? What right do I have to hold myself up as especially typical?
    – CJ Dennis
    Jan 3, 2020 at 12:40
  • @CJDennis This doesn't seem like a particularly useful comment thread Jan 3, 2020 at 13:26
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In normal English you would use "Stomach rumble", though "growl" is also possible. You can also use "rumble" as a verb and say "my stomach is rumbling".

There seems to be some difference in dialect (common for such things), and "rumble" is more common in British English, whereas "growl" is more American. Also "rumble" is a more friendly sounding word, and would be more common when talking to children, but "growl" would be more appropriate for writing for adults.

There are a couple of medical terms (peristaltic sound, borborygmus) but only doctors will understand those, so don't use them (even though the second is an excellent word to say).

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  • 3
    Can I say, "My stomach was rumbling"?
    – brilliant
    Dec 31, 2019 at 13:24
  • 6
    Some people also same stomachs 'grumble' or 'gurgle'. Generally grumble is associated with hunger, as if your stomach is grumbling/complaining about missing a meal. Gurgle is loosely associated with the sounds your stomach makes when having an upset stomach, although it is used in other cases too.
    – Meg
    Dec 31, 2019 at 19:39
  • 4
    @brilliant: yes, "My stomach was rumbling" is perfect.
    – TonyK
    Jan 1, 2020 at 16:43
  • 5
    “Growl” is the only one of those I’ve ever heard in my 65 years as an American.
    – WGroleau
    Jan 1, 2020 at 17:52
  • 8
    @ThePhoton I've only ever heard "rumbling" used for hungry noises. For sickness, "churning", "upset", or "queasy" would make more sense.
    – wjandrea
    Jan 1, 2020 at 20:31
3

There are many ways to say this:

  • My stomach is rumbling.

    rumble (verb)

    1. To make a low, heavy, continuous sound.

      If I don't eat, my stomach will rumble.

  • My stomach is grumbling.

    grumble (verb)

    1. To make a low, growling or rumbling noise, like a hungry stomach or certain animals.
  • My stomach is growling.

    growl (verb)

    1. To utter a deep guttural sound, as an angry animal; to give forth an angry, grumbling sound.
    2. (jazz) Of a wind instrument: to produce a low-pitched rumbling sound.
  • My stomach is gurgling.

    gurgle (verb)

    Etymology

    Back formation from Middle English gurguling "a rumbling in the belly".

  • My stomach is making noises.

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